DIY Market Stand – Perfect for Pretend Play!

We recently celebrated my daughter Rowan’s first birthday with a farmers market themed party.  One of the hits of the party was a DIY market stand my husband and I built.  It was our gift to Rowan but also served as a fun activity for the kids at the party, and it was (and continues to be) a huge hit.  We’re not carpenters by any means, but this was pretty easy and inexpensive to put together.

Watch this video to see how we pulled it together:


  • wood crates
  • 2 48 inch long boards (1 1/2 x 3/4 inches thick)
  • Wood plank for sign (I purchased ours at JoAnn’s, but I couldn’t find it on the website.  You could find something similar or have plywood cut to fit.  The measurements of our sign are 8 x 30 inches.)
  • Wood letters (Note: Instead of using wood letters, you can opt to paint the sign with chalk paint and use chalk to write on it.)
  • 8 wood block squares cut from a 1×4 piece of wood
  • Optional (for lift): 6 wood block squares cut from a 2×4 piece of wood
  • Power drill and screws
  • Wood glue
  • Wood stain of your choice and paint brush
  • Spray paint of your choice (Be sure to use an outdoor spray paint if you plan to use this outside.)

My girls love pretend play, and this play market has been a huge hit. You can use it as a pretend farmers market stand, play grocery store, or even a lemonade stand.  I’ve always loved the pre-made market stands I’ve seen, but I love that this has a personal touch – and it’s much cheaper to make than store bought market stands, too.  I also bought this plastic fruits and vegetables set so my girls can play both indoors and outdoors with their new market stand.

Do your kids love pretend play?  If you decide to make this market stand, be sure to tag me on Instagram @themommyarchives so I can see your creation!

FTC Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Busch Gardens Tampa | Tips for an Awesome Visit

My family absolutely loves to visit theme parks!  We’re all about having a fun time and have never let having young children stop us from going out and trying new things.  I recently road tripped through Florida and visited Busch Gardens Tampa with my two girls, Kennedy (3) and Rowan (1), and my mom, and we had a fantastic time!  (Thank you Busch Gardens for the media tickets!)  I made a video sharing my tips for making the most of your family theme park trip, but I thought I’d share some of my tips specifically for Busch Gardens here.

1. Take advantage of stroller parking.  Seriously, it’s awesome!  I wish more parks had a service like this!  If you are a family traveling with a stroller (which, if you have young kids, is a MUST), let the parking attendant know.  He/She will direct you to stroller parking, which is FREE of charge and very close to the gate.  In fact, it’s right behind handicap parking and in FRONT of preferred parking, which is a paid upgrade.  This means no waiting for a tram, no far walk into the park, and no trekking to the other side of the parking lot with tired kiddos at the end of the day.  It’s amazing and so helpful for families!

2. Invest in an all-day dining deal.  If you are planning to spend all day at a park, it’s likely you will spend a LOT of money on food and drinks.  Busch Gardens offers an awesome dining option that’s a great way to save some cash.  For $34.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids, you can get a wristband that will give you access to pretty much unlimited food and drinks all day.  You can get a new meal every hour on the hour.  It includes an entree, an extra side or dessert, and a drink – one of those meals alone can easily cost you $20.  You simply have to wait an hour from your last meal purchase before you can get another.  Drinks have no restrictions and are available all day, including bottled water.  Those are usually $3 a pop, and I easily drank eight while at the park.  My favorite restaurant was Zambia Smokehouse.  The portions were generous, and the food was delicious.  Put it on your must eat list, and you won’t be disappointed!

3. Plan to watch some shows.  As far as theme park entertainment goes, Busch Gardens has some great options with very entertaining shows.  Aside from providing fun entertainment for your family to enjoy, watching a show provides a great way to cool down, take a break from the heat, and rest your feet for awhile.  If you want to catch a meal with your show, head over to Rock a Doo Wop.  It’s located in Dragon Fire Grill, which has tons of options to suit any appetite.  It’s great to be able to get some entertainment while you eat because it give you the most bang for your buck in regards to time.

4. Take advantage of ride swap.  If big kids and adults want to go on some of Busch Gardens’ awesome thrill rides, you don’t want to leave little ones waiting forever while you wait in the long lines that can accumulate at some of Busch Gardens’ roller coasters.  Busch Gardens has a VERY generous ride swap policy that is immensely helpful to families.  Walk up to the ride entrance, tell the attendant you’d like to do ride swap, and you’ll get passes that will allow you to go through the quick queue line.  This is usually a paid upgrade, and your family can get it for FREE.  After the first group rides and the others stay behind with the kids, you just swap places and go back to the attendant, and he/she will provide another quick queue pass for the remaining people who need to ride.  Not only does this ensure your children are always attended to, but this is seriously such a time saver for families that are traveling with children but who also have people that want to partake in the more adventurous offerings at Busch Gardens.

5. Bring a swimsuit or change of clothes for the kids.  Busch Gardens has two water play areas, one in Sesame Street Safari of Fun and one in Treetop Trails.  Visiting splash pad areas are another great way to let your kid cool down while having some fun, but you don’t want to have your kiddos complaining about soggy shorts the rest of the day.  It’s always smart to bring a swimsuit or a change of clothes (or two) for attractions like this.

6. See the animals!  Busch Gardens not only has awesome rides and shows, but one really cool thing that sets it apart from other theme parks is that it is home to more than 300 species of animals.  My family’s favorite way to see a variety of animals was by taking the Serengeti Express Train.  My girls love train rides and also loved seeing all the animals.  It was also another great way to rest our feet for a bit in the middle of a day filled with lots of walking.  My three year-old also enjoyed watching for animals while we ate at the Serengeti Overlook Pub.

7. Make an attractions wishlist.  There is SO much to do and see at Busch Gardens!  It can be hard to fit it all in during a visit, so make a list of the things you’re most interested in doing/seeing, and make those a priority during your visit.  My favorite roller coasters were the SheiKra, Montu, and Cheetah Hunt, and my three year-old loved the Wild Surge and Air Grover.  (Really, she enjoyed all of the Sesame Street area and could have happily stayed there all day.)  My girls’ favorite show was definitely Opening Night Critters, which is a must for animal lovers of all ages.

8. Download the Busch Gardens Tampa app.  The Busch Gardens app is such a great resource!  Not only does it have a map along with show descriptions and times, but it also let’s you know how long ride waits are and if any rides are shut down.  If you need directions to an attraction, the map on the app will detail a trail that will get you to your desired destination.  Ride height requirements are provided, and you also don’t have to worry about keeping track of a paper map all day.

9. Prepare for rain.  I’ve rarely visited a central Florida theme park without encountering rain at some point during a summer visit.  Don’t let it put a damper on your day!  Just prepare ahead of time by being aware of the forecast and when rain is predicted for the day.  Use your dry time wisely, and plan to spend the predicted rain time inside enjoying a show, a meal, or both.  If you want to wear a rain poncho, bring your own instead of purchasing it at the park, as that will save you a little money.

10. Save money by purchasing a Tampa Bay CityPass.  For just a little bit more than the cost of visiting Busch Gardens, you can purchase a Tampa Bay CityPass and visit five top Tampa attractions.  Busch Gardens, of course, is included, as well as a variety of other family-friendly attractions.  You really do get a great value, so it’s an awesome way to save some money while still getting to have a fun, adventure-filled family vacation.

Busch Gardens Tampa is an awesome, family-friendly theme park that is perfect for people of all ages.  Whether you’re traveling with toddlers, teenagers, or anyone in between, your family is sure to have a fantastic time!  It has something to offer everyone!  If you’re traveling to central Florida with your family, this is a park you don’t want to miss.

Have you visited Busch Gardens Tampa?  Do you have any tips you would add to this list?


FTC Disclosure:  This post is not sponsored.  I was provided with two free media tickets for my family’s visit to Busch Gardens.  All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

DockATot Review & Giveaway

I’m so excited to be sharing a review of one of my all time favorite baby products – a DockATot!  Our DockATot Deluxe allowed us to have an awesome and stress free co-sleeping experience with our second child, Rowan.  It’s also multipurpose and can be used around your home for a variety of purposes.  Watch my video to learn more about why I love, love, LOVE the DockATot brand!

DockATot was kind enough to offer a giveaway for a DockATot Deluxe in Pristine White!  To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  Giveaway will run from August 6, 2017 at 12 a.m. CST to August 20 at 12 a.m. CST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t wait to win?!  Shop DockATot here, and use the coupon code “DOCKREFER10” to get $10 off your purchase!  DockATot is also available on Amazon.

FTC Disclosure: This post is not sponsored.  I was provided with a DockATot in exchange for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Farmers Market Birthday Party

My baby girl is ONE today!!  Can you even believe it?!  I know I certainly can’t!  We celebrated her first birthday over the weekend with an adorable farmers market themed party.  I absolutely ADORE how it turned out and loved putting it together.  Truth be told, this is probably my favorite themed party I’ve thrown so far!

Here is a look at the main food tables – and my dogs hoping someone drops some scraps.  😉  I did purchase some of the party decor, but I also did a lot of “shopping” at my in-laws’ house.  My mother-in-law has accumulated quite a number of things over the years that are perfect for parties like this, and her eclectic collection of antiques and vintage items and variety of baskets definitely came in handy!

We had quite the food spread!  I wanted the food tables to look nice and full and to have the same kind of offerings you might be able to find at a traditional farmers market.  Of course, that meant LOTS of produce.  We pretty much just stuck to fruit since it was a morning party and offered a few varieties of apples, pears, bananas, black and red grapes, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, oranges, blackberries, and cherry tomatoes.  We also had banana chips – for good measure, haha!  I shopped around at different stores for the best produce sales and was able to save a lot of money that way.

We offered cheeses and “farm fresh eggs,” a.k.a. hard boiled eggs.  There were a variety of baked goods, including mini muffins, cinnamon rolls, donuts, cinnamon raisin bread, and bagels, which we also provided toppings for.  We had local honey, four varieties of cream cheese, butter, and two types of jellies.  It really was a delicious brunch spread!

The mini muffins were served in egg cartons, which I think was a really cute touch.  I used baskets I already had on hand as well as some baskets from my in-law’s house for the fruit and baked goods, and I also purchased some berry baskets from Amazon to give an authentic farmers market touch.  I used red and white checkered liners from Dollar Tree (the checkered table cloths and napkins also came from there) to line the berry baskets so that I could use them again in the future.  I also purchased these black wire baskets from Amazon for a great price – just under $3 each!  They were perfect, and I know I’ll definitely be able to get more use out of them at future parties and around my home.

At the drink table, we offered lemonade, apple juice from glass bottles, and homemade cold brew coffee – which turned out delicious and was a huge hit.  We also had a large galvanized bucket with bottled water and juice boxes and milk boxes for the kids.

We also had a little kettle corn setup next to the cake.  I made DIY paper cones to hold the popcorn out of decorative card stock.  I had actually purchased a package of that card stock for Kennedy’s first birthday and still had it in my craft bin!  I strung Rowan’s monthly pictures above that setup with red twine and mini clothespins, and everyone enjoyed looking at how much she had grown and changed over the past year.

And can we please talk about the cake?! My friend Jessica made this beautiful rustic cake topped with sugared berries that tasted as good as it looks!  It was seriously exactly what I had in my head, and Jessica did such a good job executing it.  It was a strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting that was to die for!

Although a farmers market spread outside might have felt more authentic, we opted to serve all the food inside to protect it from the Texas summer heat and flies.  Most guests congregated outside to eat and enjoy each other’s company, and we also had some activities for the kiddos to enjoy.  It wasn’t until I sat to write this blog post that I realized I didn’t really take any pictures outside!  I’ve learned that kids love to color, and a coloring station is a super easy, low maintenance activity to have at a party, so I printed out some farmers market coloring sheets I found on Pinterest.  We have this playset in our backyard, which is always helpful when we’re hosting get togethers, and the kids had a fun time playing on that.  I also purchased a strawberry pinata from Amazon and filled it with fruit stickers and other fun little prizes.

One thing that was super easy to do and that the kids loved were “carrot” bubbles.  We simply took carrot colored bubble wands and attached four green pipe cleaners to each.  They were super cute, and what kid doesn’t love bubbles?!  Not only did the kids play with the bubbles during the party, but they also served as party favors.  Fortunately, I had enough left over to snap a picture for this blog post.

By far, my favorite activity at the party was this cute little market stand my husband and I built.  (Again, this was another thing I forgot to take pictures of the day of the party, so it’s looking a little gloomy here because it’s been raining most of the day.)  I purchased this plastic fruit and vegetable set from Amazon, brown plastic baskets from Dollar Tree, and a couple of super cute plastic berry baskets I found for super cheap at Joann Fabric to pull it all together.  We also put faux flowers in a small tin bucket and had some reusable grocery bags for the kids to play with.  This little market stand was such a hit with the kids, and they loved “shopping” at their own little farmers market.  This was also part of Rowan’s birthday gift, and the girls have really enjoyed playing with it together.  Kennedy plans to use it to have a lemonade stand at an upcoming yard sale, too!

There were so many little details that went into making this party super special.  Outside of the decorative pieces I scavenged from my in-laws’ house, I purchased seed packets from Dollar Tree and hung them from our party lights as well as from twine underneath our party sign.  I purchased a farmers market party package set from Etsy that included our invitations and other great printables, including the party sign and produce tags.  I also purchased mini chalkboard signs from Amazon for food labeling – which of course will also come in handy for future parties.  Target had a vast selection of farmers market items in their dollar area around the time of the party, so I picked up just a few things there that I knew I could reuse later.  I also hit the jackpot when I went to Aldi the night before to finish purchasing food, and they had bouquets of flowers for just $1.99!  I purchased five and was able to have plenty of flowers for added decor.  We put the flowers in vases we had on hand, mason jars, tin cans, and this galvanized milk can my husband Caleb picked out from Joann’s.

I loved being able to celebrate my darling little girl in such a special way.  We celebrated with close friends and family, and it was truly such a great day filled with lots of fun – and lots of Rowan’s favorite fruits.  😉  Something really special to me was that Rowan wore the same dress her big sister Kennedy wore for her first birthday, and it brought so much joy to my mama heart.  I’ll always look back on this day with fondness and lots of happy memories.

Check out my corresponding YouTube video to see more detail shots of the party decor and how everything came together!

*FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  That means I make a small commission if you purchase something I linked to, at no additional cost to you.  Thanks for supporting The Mommy Archives!

DIY Hand Sanitizer

diy hand sanitizer 1

Today I’m sharing a super quick and easy DIY hand sanitizer recipe.  While I prefer washing my hands if I can, that’s not always an option, so hand sanitizer is definitely one of my handbag essentials.

diy hand sanitizer 2

For this recipe, you will need:

Part of what makes this recipe super easy is that there is no formal measuring – which means less things to clean up!  Everything goes straight into the glass amber bottle.

diy hand sanitizer 3Fill the amber bottle up about 1/4 of the way with the aloe gelly, and then fill to the top with witch hazel, making sure to leave room to add the spray nozzle.  Next, add 4 drops of tea tree oil and 2 drops of lavender.  (Note: This is a kid and pregnancy-safe dilution.  If that’s not a concern for you, feel free to double the amount of essential oil drops if you prefer a stronger dilution.)  Put the spray nozzle back on the bottle, and give a good shake to incorporate all the ingredients together.

diy hand sanitizer 4

That’s it!  A super simple DIY hand sanitizer perfect for taking on-the-go.  Give the bottle a quick shake prior to each use (just for good measure), and you’re good to go!  This recipe contains ingredients that I already keep in my home anyway, so it’s super easy to whip it up in a pinch.


*This post contains affiliate links.*